Not a Call To Arms

I get hassled if I don’t write a blog, but my guess is that some of my blogs of late have been tough to read all of. I probably know the names of the three people who read all the way through my Fringe blogs, and I don’t think my parents or my wife really count.

So, I’m gonna say something here, and I want to keep it short.

I’m in my mid thirties now, which I’m sure seems old to some of you, but it feels really young to me. When I was 20, I made a list of parts that I wanted to play, a top ten list, and by the time I was 26 I had played almost all of them and none of it lived up to expectation. For the last eight years, my acting “career”, for lack of a better word, has taken a turn I never thought it would.

Since 1996, if you don’t count Shakespeare or Musicals, I have done only one play that had been previously produced. Naturally, the film and television stuff I’ve done was brand new, you don’t tend to re-make old episodes of “Charmed” or whatever, but every single play I’ve done has been, for lack of a better word, a premiere. Every character I’ve made (save one) has never been performed before.

There was a foul mothed ad-exec who was given a deadline to come up with a new name for a drug that helps you sleep. He came up with “Souchite”.

There was a lonely office worker who was trying to figure out how to fight for his marriage. He finds out his dog is sick and dying, and he and his wife have to work out either to end their marriage or how far they will go to fight for it.

There was a Southern military doctor in 1942 who had problems with authority and ended up stuck in an all black fighting unit, where he learned that everything he knew about black people was wrong.

There was the lost boy, floating around New York, drunk, frozen, unable to change his life who slowly loses everything, his money, his jobs, even his pride, until finally he loses himself and, in doing so, becomes free to have the life he really wants.

There was a gay computer technician who fought with his lover to make their relationship public knowledge, who lost the love of his life because the other guy was a coward.

There was the foul-mouthed wordsmith film-maker who was backed into a corner by losing his best friend and had to find a way to forgive himself, and to help the people around him forgive themselves, for circumstances that weren’t just unimaginable to him, but unimaginable to anyone who grew up in America in the last quarter of the 20th century.

And there were about a dozen more.

So, what am I supposed to do? You don’t know any of these guys, right? I didn’t say “A Mormon guy who leaves his wife when he discovers he is gay and works for Roy Cohn”, right? But, what am I supposed to do?


In a hundred years, I’ll be dead. As dead as John Barrymore. As dead as Richard Harris. As dead as Richard *KLINE* will be. So, what am I supposed to do? I can’t ask the question anymore, because the question leaves me frigid. The question of relevance, I can’t ask it. What if I’m never famous, what if my work is never seen by more than a handful of people? What if these characters only become familiar to you when they are re-created by someone with cache?

I can’t ask it, because I’m an actor, and this much is all I’ve learned. I’m actually totally liberated, if I were to quit, there would be only a handful of people disappointed. There would be a group of people who would say, “it’s a shame you aren’t acting any more, you were fantastic,” but they wouldn’t actually think it was a *tragedy* or anything. I just can’t really quit, I just can’t, I don’t know how else to measure my life. Y’all had semesters, I had rehearsals, openings and strike. Hot weather means try to get a fall tour, fall weather means get a Christmas show, when the ice starts melting you gotta think about summer stock, and all the rest of the time you’re trying to get a national commercial or a recurring role on a TV show.

Right now, I’m a CEO and inventor whose sole motivation is the planned obsolescence of the material he is creating. He needs the people to whom he is selling to get rid of the old things he invents as quickly as possible in order for his new things to be purchased. The town he lives in is based entirely around the purchasing of his newest products and the quick disposal of his old stuff.

Is this a metaphor for my own life, living as an actor/writer/producer of theater in New York? Why the hell would I even ask that question?

I have only one choice, to make the work it’s own reward. Sure, I’m getting paid for the show I’m in now, and sure, it has some possibility of commercial success in a certain part of the theater world, but if it is, they will probably replace me with a different actor. Or maybe not. But this guy, making this guy the guy, is what I have to do.